Wollander, William A.
Born November 15, 1906, the training and early career of designer Willard A. Wollander is unknown. And while research has revealed that he never acquired an architectural license to officially practice in Washington State, Wollander had a significant impact on the built environment in the Puget Sound region.
He capitalized on a demand for housing following World War II by providing home-owners and builders with affordable plans for modest dwellings. While his practice was based in Tacoma, Wollander’s designs can be found as far north as Mountlake Terrace, where he provided plans for six dwellings for the 1950 Seattle Area Parade of Homes. The next year he designed two additional, more upscale homes in Bellevue for the parade.
An obvious entrepreneur, in 1946 Wollander formed his own construction company, “Wollander Farwest Homes.” Marketed under a variety of names such as Wollander Homes, Wollander Better Builder Plans, the company planned to build between 25 and 100 homes daily, using some prefabricated elements. Consumers reportedly would have a choice of 725, 832 or 920 square feet, two-bedroom houses, all available for under $6,000. The company also just sold plans to individual homeowners and builders.
In order to market his prefab homes, Wollander built a full-scale model at the first annual home show in Tacoma in 1949. The model home was on display at the College of Puget Sound’s Memorial Fieldhouse, where people could walk through the house and register to win the $8,500 home.
Homes designed by Wollander can be found in Tacoma, Seattle, Bellevue, Lakewood, Mountlake Terrace, and Olympia.
In 1958 Wollander published a small booklet called “How Houses are Designed Professionally,” and followed it up 11 years later by “The Problem, A Solution.” Wollander passed away in March 1982 in Salem, Oregon. Docomomo WEWA is seeking additional information about the life and work of Willard A. Wollander.
- Michael C. Houser